(HealthDay News) — Well-informed patients might make better choices about what prescriptions they take, according to the evaluation of an educational intervention aimed at encouraging seniors to discontinue sleeping pill use published online April 14 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Cara Tannenbaum, MD, of the Université de Montréal, and colleagues randomized 303 long-term benzodiazepine users to an educational intervention that described the risks of sleeping pill use and encouraged discussing tapering use with a health care provider, or to usual care. The authors sought to evaluate the effect of the intervention on benzodiazepine cessation.

The researchers found that, of the 261 participants who completed the six-month follow-up, 62% of those in the intervention arm talked to their physician or pharmacist about benzodiazepine cessation. Twenty-seven percent of patients in the intervention arm had stopped using the drugs, compared with 5% of patients in the control arm. In multivariate subanalyses, no significant interaction effect was seen for benzodiazepine therapy discontinuation and age >80 years, sex, duration of use, indication for use, dose, previous attempt to taper, and concomitant polypharmacy (≥10 drugs/day).

“Direct-to-consumer education effectively elicits shared decision making around the overuse of medications that increase the risk of harm in older adults,” the authors write.

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